The Waitrose & Partners and Fairtrade partnership

Waitrose & Partners have supported Fairtrade since our beginnings in 1994, when they were one of the first supermarkets to stock Fairtrade products. They continue their support to this day and offer the largest range of Fairtrade products of any supermarket in the UK. This wide range has helped to drive the UK market for many smaller Fairtrade commodities and brands, for example herbs and spices.  

As well as stocking a wide range of Fairtrade brands, Waitrose also have market-leading commitments on their own label ranges. Waitrose are themselves a partnership that values the democratic nature of Fairtrade and the inclusion of the voice of producers throughout the system.

Waitrose recognise that smallholder, or small-scale, farmers are very important to their supply chains and deserve a fair system of value distribution along the supply chain. Smallholders in particular need to ensure the resilience of their businesses and as such, Waitrose are committed to supporting small-scale farmers in addressing some of their challenges through programme work with Fairtrade.  

Waitrose value long-term partnerships with their producers, with some supplying produce for over seventy years. They are actively working to increase the transparency of these Fairtrade supply chains, so they are able to understand the challenges faced by smallholders and by women. 

Here is how Waitrose are taking action through Fairtrade. 


In 2007, Waitrose becase the first supermarket to sell exclusively Fairtrade bananas in their stores.  

They source from small-scale farmers and farms in a number of countries, including Colombia, Dominican Republic and St Lucia.  

In St Lucia, bananas are key to the local economy. Here, small-scale farmers face rising costs of production, but stagnation in prices. The severe impacts of climate change and alterations in weather patterns make production unpredictable and for those outside the Fairtrade system, often unsustainable. The commitment to Fairtrade by Waitrose means that smallholders here receive the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which ensures they can meet the costs of production, as well as the Fairtrade Premium to invest in their environment and community.  

Workers on banana farms are often subject to low incomes and poor working conditions. In the Dominican Republic the legal minimum wage is particularly low compared to the cost of living. To tackle this, Waitrose are working with farmers and Fairtrade on a project to improve farming methods and increase productivity on banana farms. The aim is that the income of banana workers enables long-term sustainability of the banana sector in the Dominican Republic. 

Waitrose’s banana commitment generates approx. £1,400,000 in Fairtrade Premium annually, which is invested by small-scale farmers and workers in their businesses and communities. 


All Waitrose coffee in stores and cafés is Fairtrade.  

About 80 percent of the world’s coffee is produced by 25 million small-scale coffee farmers. It is one of the most valuable and widely grown agricultural products but the income of many small-scale farmers is unreliable due to fluctuating global prices, climatic changes and reduced yields.  

It is for these reasons that Fairtrade works solely with small-scale farmers in coffee. Waitrose are passionate about extending the benefits of Fairtrade’s Minimum Price and Premium further into their supply chain, which is why they worked with Fairtrade to establish Java’s first Fairtrade coffee co-operative, investing in the group to support them to achieve certification. This project resulted in the launch of the world’s first ever Fairtrade Java coffee, Waitrose No 1 Java Coffee.  

The Java project meant150 small-scale farmers joined Fairtrade, accessing the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium, extending financial investment into the wider community.  

Waitrose have also invested in a project in Fairtrade coffee co-operative, ASOPEP, in Colombia. The project will fund a new lab and training school, which will improve the quality of the coffee meaning the farmers will earn more from sales. Increasingly, younger generations are turning away from coffee farming due to low incomes. The hope of the project is that through improving incomes, younger generations will be encouraged into coffee farming. While the project will benefit the whole community, the initial training will strongly focus on the inclusion of women and young people.  

Overall Waitrose generate more than £500,000 in Fairtrade Premium annually. 


All Waitrose & Partners tea in stores and cafés is Fairtrade.  

Most tea is grown on large estates. Workers often live on or near the estate, and low wages and poor working conditions are prevalent. Even when national minimum wages are met on a tea estate, there is still a considerable gap between that and a living wage and workers often rely on in-kind benefits. Fairtrade supports estate workers’ participation in collective bargaining so they can strengthen their voice and work with management toward improving wages and conditions. It is for these reasons that Waitrose choose to source exclusively Fairtrade tea.  

Fairtrade also works with small-scale tea farmers, mainly in East Africa. Small-scale farmers often have very small plots and rely on nearby tea estates as their connection to the broader markets, meaning they have little leverage with which to improve their incomes. Fairtrade helps to open up export markets and through the Fairtrade Minimum Price, ensures that a fair price is paid for their crop. Farmers also receive the Fairtrade Premium to invest in projects that benefit their communities.  

Waitrose’s tea sourcing generates approximately £350,000 in Fairtrade Premium annually. 


All Waitrose confectionery is produced using Fairtrade cocoa. 

Around six million people depend on farming cocoa for their livelihoods, with over 60 percent of the world’s cocoa sourced from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. 90 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown by small-scale farmers and with increasingly volatile prices, income cannot keep up with the rising costs of production. As a result, many families in cocoa-producing countries across West Africa and Latin America cannot access healthcare, education and other essentials.  

Waitrose have sourced Fairtrade cocoa for their block chocolate range for many years, and in 2019 extended this commitment to sourcing all of the cocoa in their own label confectionery range as Fairtrade.  

Fairtrade is the only certification that guarantees a Fairtrade Minimum Price for cocoa producers. The Fairtrade Premium enables farmers to participate in a diverse range of projects that contribute to both community, personal and economic development. 

Waitrose’s commitment generates approx. £100,000 annually in Fairtrade Premium. 


All Waitrose sugar is Fairtrade.  

Waitrose sugar is sourced from small-scale farmers in Mauritius. Unusually, the sugar is also bagged at source, keeping crucial additional revenue in the local community. This is on top of approximately £100,000 in Fairtrade Premium generated by sales of Waitrose sugar annually.   

Fairtrade works with small-scale sugar cane farmers to strengthen bargaining position and address challenges such as climate change. Fairtrade provides guidance and support so that farmers can reduce production costs, improve income and plan for the future.  

Recently sugar producers have been hit particularly hard by unpredictable droughts and heavy rains. In addition to community projects, many groups have used some of their Fairtrade Premium to improve irrigation and drainage systems on their farms and diversify their crops, providing an extra line of defence against tropical storms and droughts. 

Take a look at our Waitrose case study for more inspiration

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